Laleh Khadivi
Thursday, June 8, 2017, 7:00 p.m., City Lights Booksellers, 261 Columbus Avenue, San Francisco

 

in conversation with Micheline Aharonian Marcom  

celebrating the release of

A Good Country

By Laleh Khadivi

from Bloomsbury Publishing

A timely novel about the radicalization of a Muslim teen in California--about where identity truly lies, and how we find it.

Laguna Beach, California, 2010. Alireza Courdee, a fourteen-year-old straight-A student and chemistry whiz, takes his first hit of pot. In as long as it takes to inhale and exhale, he is transformed from the high-achieving son of Iranian immigrants into a happy-go-lucky stoner. He loses his virginity, takes up surfing, and sneaks away to all-night raves. For the first time, Reza--now Rez--feels like an American teen. Life is smooth; even lying to his strict parents comes easily.

But then he changes again, falling out with the bad boy surfers and in with a group of kids more awake to the world around them, who share his background, and whose ideas fill him with a very different sense of purpose. Within a year, Reza and his girlfriend are making their way to Syria to be part of a Muslim nation rising from the ashes of the civil war.

Timely, nuanced, and emotionally forceful, A Good Country is a gorgeous meditation on modern life, religious radicalization, and a young man caught among vastly different worlds. What we are left with at the dramatic end is not an assessment of good or evil, east versus west, but a lingering question that applies to all modern souls: Do we decide how to live, or is our life decided for us?

Laleh Khadivi was born in Esfahan, Iran, in 1977. In the aftermath of the Islamic Revolution her family fled, finally settling in Canada and then the United States. Khadivi received her MFA from Mills College and was a Creative Writing Fellow in Fiction at Emory University. In 2008 she received The Whiting Writers' Award. In 2009 she published her first novel The Age of Orphans. Laleh Khadivi lives in California.

Micheline Aharonian Marcom  is the author of five books including the critically acclaimed trilogy of novels: Three Apples Fell from Heaven (2001), The Daydreaming Boy (2004) which earned her the 2004 Lannan Literary Fellowship as well as the 2005 PEN/USA Award for Fiction, and Draining the Sea (2008). She currently teaches Creative Writing at Mills College and is also on the faculty of the Goddard College MFA in Creative Writing Program.